The Placenta Clinic

The Manchester Placenta Clinic is part of the Tommy's Research Centre at St Mary's Hospital. The clinic aims to improve the care of pregnant women who have, or are at risk of having, babies with fetal growth restriction.

At the Manchester Placenta Clinic, women who are at high risk of placenta problems are seen a small team of dedicated midwives and doctors. Women usually have an ultrasound scan of their baby performed at every visit; the frequency of visits is flexible depending upon patient need. The clinic also takes part in research, with patients often being asked to donate their placentas or take part in other studies when they come for their clinic appointments.

Most babies grow normally in the womb, however some babies (around 1 in 20) are smaller than expected. This is called fetal growth restriction (FGR).

It is important that we find out which babies have FGR. If it is undetected it can, in some cases, cause stillbirth. The risk of this happening is reduced by carefully monitoring the baby's growth and wellbeing and choosing the right time to deliver the baby. This is usually earlier than the expected date of delivery.

Many of the women we see in the Placenta Clinic go on to have uncomplicated pregnancies.

What happens at the clinic?

Your first appointment will usually be around 23 weeks pregnant. At the appointment you will have an ultrasound scan, an antenatal check and a chat with the doctor and midwife about your care. You do not need to have a full bladder for this scan. 23 weeks of pregnancy is a good time to check your baby's growth and the information we get from the scan helps us to plan the care you will receive during the rest of your pregnancy. For example, the scan tells us if we need to see you again in the Placenta Clinic or if you can continue to have care with your community midwife. We will discuss this with you at the appointment.

If the scan shows that your baby is smaller than expected or that your baby's growth is likely to slow down later on in pregnancy, then we will ask you to come back for further scans so that we can continue to monitor your baby's growth. The findings of the scan and a plan of care will be discussed with you at each appointment.

Reduction in your baby’s movements can be the first sign that they are not well. We advise all pregnant women to get to know your own baby's movements and to contact the hospital if movements slows down. There is no set number of normal movements. Your baby will have their own pattern of movements that you should get to know.

From 16-24 weeks on you should feel your baby move for the first time and this will increase up until 32 weeks then stay roughly the same until you give birth.  If you notice a change in your baby's pattern of movements, always ring the hospital the same day.  Do not leave it until the next day or your next appointment.

More information about monitoring your baby’s movements in pregnancy

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Referral Information

Patients are referred by their midwife, GP or consultant direct to Professor Ed Johnstone (0161 701 7158) or Suzanne Thomas (0161 7016965).

The most common reasons for referring women to the clinic are because:

  • you have had a small baby in the past
  • a hormone level in your blood (measured when you had screening for Down Syndrome) suggests that your baby's growth may slow down later in pregnancy.  This does not alter any results you have been given about the risk of Down Syndrome
  • your baby is currently smaller than expected (you will have already been told about this)

Patients receive combined midwifery and consultant obstetric care and ultrasound scans at each visit. Risk assessment and delivery planning based on this also take place.

Clinic information

The clinic is located at:

5th Floor Tommy's Research Centre

Saint Mary's Hospital

Manchester

The clinic is held every Wednesday

The secretary can be contacted on (0161) 276 6116, Monday - Friday, 8.30 am - 4.30 pm.

If you have any questions you can speak to one of our midwives, Suzanne or Louise.  They are available Monday to Friday, 9.00 am - 4.30 pm, on (0161) 701 6965.

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